Men’s basketball takes home opener

McLeod Brown | Sports Editor

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Though still not running at nearly full cylinders, the UNC Wilmington men’s basketball team is gradually finding what works and what doesn’t as they continue through the early part of their season.

After dropping their first two contests of the year, the Seahawks (2-2) toppled Wingate (0-2) 80-61 in their home opener at Trask on Saturday night, evening their record.

One of the main question marks surrounding the season was UNCW’s depth across the front line.

Losing All-CAA performer Keith Rendleman to graduation and returning only three contributors from last season in junior Cedrick Williams, senior Shayne Reybold, and redshirt sophomore Dylan Sherwood raised eyebrows about the team’s ability to win the inside battle.

Those woes proved true in their first three games as the Seahawks were outrebounded 154-117.

Saturday’s contest proved to be a different story, however, as UNCW took the advantage on the boards 55-35, led by Reybold’s 19 rebounds, two short of the school record set by Rendleman on Jan. 2 of this year.

“I didn’t think I had that many, but I knew I was rebounding well today,” Reybold said. “I think part of it was our guards playing great defense, making them take contested shots over them instead of having a big guy have to come over and rotate. I was pretty much under the basket able to pull them down.”

The former walk-on added nine points, two blocks, and two steals to help secure the Seahawk victory.

Williams finished as the team’s leading scorer with 13 points off of 6-of-8 shooting in 24 minutes. Junior guard Freddie Jackson also added 10 points in the victory.

UNCW success on the block was evident with 40 points in the paint along with 15 offensive rebounds fueling 18 second chance points.

Reybold’s near record-breaking night was not a surprise to those who practice with him every day, however.

“Since I’ve been here as a freshman he’s [Reybold] always worked the hardest on the team,” Jackson said. “I know if I can outwork him, I’m working the hardest on the team. You use him as a scale. It’s exciting and refreshing to see him play as well as he is. He deserves it.”

Saturday’s game marked the halfway point in a 18-day eight game stretch to start the season for UNCW.

Coming off their first victory, an 80-78 overtime win at Charleston Southern, on Wednesday, the Seahawks showed they were not looking past the Division II Bulldogs in preparation for Monday’s contest at Liberty.

 “We’re using this as a stepping stool for our confidence. Yeah, they’re a D-II school, but they played on the same court that we did tonight,” Jackson said. “They came out and they fought, they fought well. But we felt we had the upper-hand and stayed in control of the game, so we just have to use that same focus and mentality going forward.”